| 23 July 2024, Tuesday |

New UK prime minister to face staff walk out on first day in office, union says

The public service trade union said on Thursday that employees at Britain’s business and energy department building will go on strike on the same day as the country’s next prime minister is unveiled next week.

Cleaners, security guards, receptionists, mail room employees, and others at the Department of Business, Energy, and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) will strike on September 5 and 6 for health, safety, and other issues.

The action was “a sign of things to come” for the next prime minister, the Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS) said. Britain’s new leader is expected to be named on Sept. 5 and formally begin work on Sept. 6.

“Our members all across the civil service are increasingly angry and desperate as the government does nothing to ease the cost-of-living crisis,” PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka said. The striking staff are on outsourced contracts, not direct government employees.

Britain’s next leader will take power at a time of intense industrial unrest with union workers striking across a wide range of industries as surging inflation fuels demands for higher pay and better working conditions at the same time as the country faces a recession.

Liz Truss, the frontrunner to replace Boris Johnson as Britain’s prime minister, said she would bring in “tough and decisive action” to limit strike action by trade unions if she becomes leader.

The strike was called by the union because ISS, the company that employs the outsourced employees, failed to enforce health and safety procedures, placing “PCS members at intolerable risk.”

  • Reuters